Fatally shot 44-year-old dad of 5 'well-loved'

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Anthony J. Taylor Sr. found his 44-year-old son shot dead early Friday, lying in some bushes outside their west-side home.

It started with gunshots around 12:50 a.m. on the 17000 block of Huntington, near McNichols and the Southfield Freeway.

“I knew it was around the time (my son) got home, so I came downstairs and I looked out the door and his car was parked out there,” Taylor, 62, said of the incident that claimed the life of Anthony J. Taylor Jr., a father of five.

“I came out, walked down the steps and he wasn’t in the car. As I turned around to walk back up the stairway, I saw his foot. He had fallen into the bushes,” the elder Taylor said. “And that’s how I discovered him.”

Taylor, a retired military man, immediately started CPR.

“But I knew he was gone by that point,” Taylor said. “I just did everything I could and called 911.”

Taylor’s son was shot in the chest and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

An unidentified witness told investigators he heard five to eight gunshots, looked out his window and watched a man flee the scene. That man is described by police as 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a medium build, wearing all-black clothing.

The younger Taylor was returning home from a late-night dinner with his girlfriend when he was killed, according to his father. The couple was on the phone when shots rang out.

“I noticed a phone in (my son’s) hand and somebody was screaming and hollering,” Taylor said. “She pulled up (outside the home) immediately. She’s very, very messed up.”

Also left behind were the victim’s five children, ranging in age from 14 to 28.

“They’re taking it really hard,” their grandfather said. “He gets involved in school ... he was that kind of father to his children.”

The younger Taylor’s dedication to family flourished after the man “turned his life around” in recovery several years ago, according to both his father and close friend, Marcus Kelly.

“We both came into recovery around 2010 or 2011,” said Kelly, 49. “I used to admire the way he dressed and I asked him where he got his clothes, and we both just clicked from there. Inseparable. He turned his life totally around and he became one of my best friends.”

Taylor and Kelly met while in recovery at Elmhurst Home on Linwood, the friend said. Years later, Taylor returned there to work, helping men seeking treatment.

“He helped everyone who came into contact with him,” Kelly said. “The way he lived his life is a testament to what God and recovery can do.”

Taylor’s father said his son was on the road to becoming a minister.

“He took it extremely seriously,” Taylor said.

The victim even swore off the rap and hip-hop music he once enjoyed, according to his friend.

“He was just telling me he didn’t want to listen to that stuff anymore because he wanted to get his mind centered on God,” Kelly said.

Both father and friend stressed that the victim could not have fallen back into the “lifestyle” of the streets. He never missed work, went to church every Sunday and stayed in communication with his family.

“He had a rough beginning, but for the last few years he’s been the child I always wanted him to be,” Taylor said.

Kelly agreed.

“All I know is (his death) was undeserving. He wasn’t involved in anything illegal or dirty or anything underhanded. His slate was clean,” Kelly said. “I want to say that I know God was happy with the way he was living his life.”

Taylor repeatedly expressed how proud he was of his son.

“I’d just like to say that he was well-loved. Even when he was out there doing the wrong things, he was loved,” the father said. “He came back around and he made me so proud. He did it all right.”

The Friday killing left family and friends in shock.

“We talked daily. There was nothing I couldn’t tell him,” Kelly said. “We prayed together. We laughed together. We cried together. I’m in total disbelief and shock. My heart is broken.”

hfournier@detroitnews,com

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